Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14361)

Undoubtedly, Jimmie Johnson would like to forget that the 2011 season ever happened. Apparently, voters in’s annual preseason poll already have.


Members of picked Johnson to reign supreme once again – despite a career-low sixth-place finish in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points.


Johnson received 147 votes in the annual preseason poll, just two more than Carl Edwards, who finished second in last season’s championship points. Rounding out the top 12: defending champion Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.


Voting among the top four was especially close, as Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon were separated by only seven votes. Stewart trailed Johnson by three votes.


“To be honest I'm stoked they did,” Johnson said. “They know racing and know how much last year will motivate us. Now, we need to go out and do our best to make them all look good.”


Media members were also tasked with predicting the final top 10 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.


NASCAR reporters feel déjà vu in NASCAR’s No. 2 series, picking Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to become the first NASCAR Nationwide repeat champion since Martin Truex Jr. accomplished the rare feat in 2004-05.


Stenhouse, who tallied 74 votes, nabbed two more than Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Dillon and last season’s runner up Elliott Sadler. Filling out the top 10: Justin Allgaier, Sam Hornish Jr., Danica Patrick, Kenny Wallace, Cole Whitt, Trevor Bayne and Michael Annett.


Johnny Sauter came a scant six points short of winning last season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. Instead, Austin Dillon wore the 2011 crown. Dillon’s gone now, moving to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and prognosticators believe Sauter will take advantage of his absence.


In the closest vote among the three series, Sauter’s 62 votes barely edged Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ty Dillon (Austin’s little brother) for the top spot. The younger Dillon tallied 61 votes from the media.


Rounding out the top 10: Ron Hornaday Jr., Matt Crafton, James Buescheer, Timothy Peters, Parker Kligerman, Joey Coulter, Nelson Piquet Jr., Jason Leffler, Justin Lofton and David Starr.


NEMCO Motorsports announced today that Bill Elliott, past Sprint Cup Champion and Daytona 500 winner, will pilot the #97 Toyota for the Daytona 500 to be held at the Daytona International Speedway on Sunday February 26, 2012.

This synergy will bring Front Row Joe, Joe Nemechek and Million Dollar Bill, Bill Elliott together as a powerful pair to kickoff the 2012 NASCAR season at the 54th running of the Daytona 500.

“I am really excited to be racing with NEMCO Motorsports and Joe Nemechek, who has been a friend and respected competitor through the years,” said Bill Elliott, noted NASCAR driver. “This will be a great way to start off the 2012 NASCAR season in Daytona.”

Elliott’s dedication to the sport of racing for nearly three decades has endeared him to fans and earned him the additional nickname of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville (GA). Since 1976, Elliott has participated in close to 750 races, achieved 44 wins and collected 55 career poles. With all of his incredible success, he still remains humble and continues to bring positive contributions to the sport.

Hard work and a passion for the art of racing turned an eager young driver from a small Georgia town into a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. But, it was the strength and support of his family that first launched Bill Elliott into racing. George Elliott, the family patriarch, started bringing his three boys, Ernie, Dan and Bill, to the racetrack. The whole family was passionate about racing and it wasn't long before the Elliott boys were behind the wheel.

This family affair is very similar to the journey of the Nemechek family where Joe’s parents, Martha and Papa Joe supported Joe and his brother John in their wide interests and successful efforts at a variety of motorsports which ultimately led them both to NASCAR with a similar family business. Both Nemechek and Elliott have sons who are up and coming drivers: John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Elliott. These boys even faced off in this year’s SpeedFest at the Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, GA.

“This is a great and fun moment in racing for us at NEMCO Motorsports,” said Joe Nemechek. “We believe the talent and skill of Bill will steer the 97 car to a great showing for us and I am excited to be racing right along with him, this time on the same team.”


As the child of two parents who went to work every day (and sometimes nights, as mom is a nurse...) AJ Allmendinger didn’t come from the kind of background that provided him an unlimited budget to go racing.  Fortunately, significant parental sacrifices, Allmendinger’s natural talent and desire, and some well-timed help from racing scholarships helped him race his way to the pinnacle of the sport.


Allmendinger is set to make his debut for Penske Racing this Saturday in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in the non-points Budweiser Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway.


Having seen first hand the impact that some outside help can have on a racer’s career, Allmendinger is very pleased to announce a new program that will see a deserving young karter receive a scholarship to race in the 2012 World Karting Association championship starting March 23-25 at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina. The scholarship winner will also be set to compete in the Rotax Grand Nationals in August and SKUSA SuperNationals in November.


While Allmendinger was lucky enough to have a winning personality to go with his tremendous on-track skill set, he knows that being the full package is key to getting attention and earning the sponsorship and support needed to move up. To that end, the scholarship prize winner will also receive media and management training from Walldinger Racing, Allmendinger’s management firm.


Allmendinger’s scholarships included prizes from the Skip Barber Racing School (where he finished second in the 2001 National Championship and won the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship) as well as being selected to compete in the 2001/2002 New Zealand Formula Ford Championship as a winner of the Team USA Scholarship, run by longtime motorsports writer and broadcaster Jeremy Shaw.


“I was very lucky, so many different times through my career, to get the support that I needed to keep racing and keep moving up,” said Allmendinger, who opened the 2012 season with a win in the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona for Michael Shank Racing. “So I feel very fortunate to be in a position to try to help someone else who is trying to do the same thing. I’ve had really great partners through my career and I think you can expect some exciting announcements as we go forward with this program. I am really looking forward to this being the start of something good for some young racer out there.”


Beginning today (Feb. 15), serious applicants ages 13-16 are asked to send their CV, racing credentials, photo, and short summary of their racing goals to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Deadline for entry is March 10, 2012.   For additional information, please visit



Fifth-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Michael McDowell will pilot the No. 98 Ford Fusion for Phil Parsons Racing (PPR) for the entire 2012 Sprint Cup season, it was announced today by PPR’s Phil Parsons and new partner Mike Curb.


Parsons, the former NASCAR driver and current television commentator on SPEED, merged the assets of his PPR team with Whitney Motorsports during the offseason in an effort to bolster his 2012 Sprint Cup effort.


Curb, owner of Curb Records who also has long and successful history of race team ownership in the NASCAR and open-wheel ranks, among others, becomes a partner in the PPR effort for 2012.


“Combining our efforts with Whitney Motorsports with the support of Mike Curb and having Michael (McDowell) behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford means we’ll open the season at Daytona better prepared than ever before,” Parsons said. “We feel the timing couldn’t be better for us to build this program into a proper Sprint Cup Series effort.”


The No. 98 Ford Fusion will run with Roush Yates Racing power under its hood. The team will be headed by veteran crew chief Gene Nead, who has worked with McDowell in previous Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series efforts at PPR and Michael Waltrip Racing.


“I’m particularly excited about this program for a number of reasons,” Curb said. “The players who have come together to form this latest effort shows that it’s built to succeed, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Michael is a tremendous driving talent and is a wonderful young man. He has a special interest in our Christian music operation at Curb Records and building partnership opportunities involving that segment of our business. It’s truly exciting.”


McDowell and Curb have already tasted success on the racetrack this season as the 28-year-old driver scored a podium finish in last month’s 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona co-driving a Curb Records-sponsored Michael Shank Racing Ford. A second Curb Records-sponsored Michael Shank Racing Ford won the race overall.


“This is the opportunity I’ve been looking for – to work with various Christian music outlets, Mike Curb and Curb Records, and our other partnerships that are taking shape,” said McDowell, who has 84 Sprint Cup starts to his credit. “This opportunity will allow me to expand my brand and put me in a position to work with the types of companies I’ve been wanting to work with for a long time. On the racetrack, I’m excited about the chance to have my best NASCAR season ever.”


Specific partnership announcements involving the No. 98 Ford for PPR will be made in the coming days.





The 2012 edition of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona marks the 34th running of the annual season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Daytona International Speedway. The race will feature the second-largest field in event history as 25 drivers are entered in this year’s Budweiser Shootout.


The Budweiser Shootout at Daytona has featured 19 different winners, including the late Dale Earnhardt, whose six victories are record for the event. Among active drivers, reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has the most wins in the event with three. Stewart scored back-to-back Budweiser Shootout victories 2001 and 2002, and visited Victory Lane again in 2007.


While Kurt Busch is the most recent winner of the Budweiser Shootout, Budweiser driver Kevin Harvick has two wins in the annual season-opener with his back-to-back victories in 2009 and 2010.


The PLAYERS’ Performance

·         Of the 25 drivers entered in the event, seven are previous Budweiser Shootout winners: Busch (2011), Harvick (2009 and 2010), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003 and 2008), Stewart (2001, 2002 and 2007), Denny Hamlin (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2005) and Jeff Gordon (1994 and 1997).

·         Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski are scheduled to make their first start in the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday. Five drivers have scored wins in their first Budweiser Shootout start, including: Buddy Baker in the inaugural event in 1979, Earnhardt in 1980, Gordon in 1994, Dale Jarrett in 1996 and Hamlin in 2006.

·         Five drivers have won the Budweiser Shootout after leading only the final lap of the race. The list of drivers includes: Earnhardt (1980), Neil Bonnett (1983 and 1984), Rusty Wallace (1998), Jarrett (2004) and Harvick (2009).




Only three drivers have won the Budweiser Shootout after starting from the pole position. Darrell Waltrip won from the top spot in 1981, Bill Elliott accomplished the feat in 1987 and Ken Schrader did the same in 1989.



Four different drivers have won back-to-back Budweiser Shootout: Harvick (2009-10), Stewart (2001-02), Schrader (1989-90) and Bonnett (1983-84).



The Budweiser Shootout winner has gone on to win the Daytona 500 the following weekend on five occasions. Bobby Allison pulled off the Daytona Speedweeks sweep in 1982 and Bill Elliott did the same in 1987. Jarrett accomplished the feat twice in his career (1996 and 2000). Gordon also scored wins in both the Budweiser Shootout and the Daytona 500 in 1997.



The winner of the Budweiser Shootout has gone on to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship seven times. Earnhardt was the first to do it in 1980, and repeated in 1986, 1991 and 1993. Waltrip (1981), Gordon (1997) and Stewart (2002) also scored championships after starting the season off with a win in the Budweiser Shootout.



The record for most starts before scoring a win is 11, a mark shared by Mark Martin and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace.



The drivers scheduled to participate in this year’s Budweiser Shootout have combined for a total of 12 wins in the race. Three victories are credited to Stewart. Harvick, Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon have each earned two wins in the Budweiser Shootout, while Busch, Hamlin and Johnson have scored one a piece.



Harvick holds the record for lowest starting position by a winner in the Budweiser Shootout. In 2009 he started the race from the 27th position and took the lead on the final lap to score the victory.


 Elevation Group

Richard Childress Racing and K&N Engineering, Inc., the inventor and leading innovator of reusable cotton gauze filter technology for automotive applications, have reached agreement on a multi-year partnership for ECR Engines' NASCAR program.


The technical partnership provides ECR Engines with K&N Engineering air and oil filters as well as research and development support. K&N Engineering will receive marketing rights to Richard Childress Racing's drivers, cars and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. All RCR race cars will be adorned with the K&N decal through the NASCAR Contingency Sponsor program as well as having the K&N logo under the hood of every car.


"K&N is thrilled to be partnering with Richard Childress Racing and ECR Engines," said Steve Williams, vice president for K&N Engineering. "RCR has been so successful in NASCAR and has such a great group of drivers in all three major series. We are looking forward to providing K&N high flow air filters and oil filters, as well as additional engineering support to assist ECR Engines."


RCR has earned 14 major stock car racing championships, including six NASCAR Cup Series titles (1986-87, 1990-91, 1993-94) with the legendary Dale Earnhardt. In 2011, the grandsons of RCR president and CEO Richard Childress earned championships in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Austin Dillon) and the ARCA Series presented by Menards (Ty Dillon). ECR Engines earned 101 victories in the past two racing seasons (2010-2011). Victories came in all three of NASCAR main touring series, including the Daytona 500 (2010) and Brickyard 400 (2010-2011). ECR Engines also took checkered flags in the Grand-Am Series Daytona Prototype division, SCCA Trans-Am Series, and multiple dirt track series.


"The potential of any engine relies on its air and oil filtering systems and K&N Engineering provides the performance and reliability we demand at ECR Engines," said Richie Gilmore, chief operating officer of ECR Engines. "The relationship between the RCR, ECR Engines and K&N Engineering has started off great and we look forward to only strengthening our partnership as the season continues."



Rick Ware Racing and (free mobile app.) have finalized a deal to run Timmy Hill for the 2012 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year.

"I am very excited to have our sponsor and driver make a move up to the Sprint Cup Series” says owner Rick Ware.

RWR will run the full Sprint Cup schedule with sponsor Poynt on board.   Mike Wallace will drive the 54th annual Daytona 500.   Timmy Hill, the 2011 Nascar Nationwide Rookie of the Year, will be at Daytona in his Poynt Nationwide Ford.  Timmy will start driving the #37 full time at Fontana or Texas.

RWR has joined forces with Larry Gunselman's Max Q Motorsports #37 for the full season.  The Sprint Cup operation will run out of RWR's new 24,000 sq. ft. facility across the street from RWR's Nationwide and Rolex programs.

Timmy's crew chief will be veteran Bill Henderson.  Ken Glen formerly of KHI will serve as Competition Director and Larry Gunselman will be General Manager of the #37 Ford.


EcoBoost, the line of Ford production car engines that provides increased power and fuel efficiency while reducing emissions, is coming to NASCAR, but not under the hood.

Ford is reaching out to its huge racing audience through a multi-tiered marketing campaign focused on EcoBoost beginning with this month’s Daytona 500.

EcoBoost, which first appeared on the NASCAR landscape as the paint scheme on the 2013 Fusion race car for its reveal in Charlotte, N.C., January 24, will serve as the primary paint scheme when defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. makes his Daytona 500 debut in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion at the end of the month.

EcoBoost will also be featured for select races on the No. 17 Fusion of former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth throughout the 2012 Sprint Cup campaign. EcoBoost will also appear on the Mustang race cars of Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne for select races on the 2012 Nationwide Series schedule.

“EcoBoost is one of the smart technologies from Ford that blends performance and fuel economy into one package.  That's something all racers and racing fans can relate to," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing.   "EcoBoost engines are available now, and they will be widely available on most vehicles from Ford. We want to raise awareness of EcoBoost among NASCAR fans, so they will look for it, and ask about it when they shop for their new Fords.”

In addition to making appearances on the track, EcoBoost will be featured as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series EcoBoost 300 event March 17, 2012 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

What is EcoBoost?

Ford EcoBoost, which uses turbocharging and direct gasoline injection to boost engine output, reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent, made its debut in the marketplace in 2009   Since its debut, the engines have beaten Ford sales expectations, brought younger, more affluent customers to the brand and returned some of the highest customer satisfaction numbers the company has ever received.

Ford plans to offer EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, and tripling the capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles.    Expanded availability in high-volume nameplates helps make fuel economy more affordable for hundreds of thousands of drivers.

There were a record 127,683 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles sold by Ford in 2011.

EcoBoost engines are available worldwide on Ford vehicles, including:

· 1.0-liter three-cylinder

· 1.6-liter four-cylinder

· 2.0-liter four-cylinder

· 3.5-liter V6

EcoBoost engines are a key element of the power of choice Ford offers buyers seeking fuel-efficient solutions. From EcoBoost to hybrids and from plug-in hybrids to full electric vehicles, this year Ford will offer nine vehicles reaching an anticipated 40 mpg or more.

By 2013, Ford plans to offer an EcoBoost engine in up to 90 percent of its North American nameplates, supporting global sales of 1.5 million EcoBoost-powered vehicles per year.

Ford Racing PR

Chip Bolin will serve as crew chief this weekend at Daytona International Speedway on the No. 99 Fastenal Ford with Carl Edwards due to the passing of Bob Osborne’s father.

Osborne will return to Daytona next week to lead Edwards and the team in the Gatorade Duels and the Daytona 500.  Bolin is currently the head engineer for Roush Fenway Racing and previously served at Matt Kenseth’s Sprint Cup crew chief.


Just as they did to begin the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season last year, FAS Lane Racing is proud to announce they are heading to Daytona for the 2012 season opening race with Terry Labonte. The two time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will pilot the No. 32 Ford for the 54th running of the Daytona 500.   In addition to the team and driver reunion, FAS Lane Racing welcomes back C & J Energy Services as the Primary Sponsor for the annual season opener at the Daytona International Speedway.

C&J Energy Services, a Corpus Christi, Texas founded company, will continue their support of their “Hometown Hero” Terry Labonte, born and raised in Corpus Christi, as he will pilot the No. 32 C&J Energy Services Ford.  The trio of FAS Lane Racing, Terry Labonte and C&J Energy Services joined forces for a handful of races last season and collectively they look forward to kicking off the 2012 season together.

“It is a great privilege for our FAS Lane Racing team to be heading to Daytona once again with Terry Labonte and have C & J Energy join us again this season,” stated team owner Frank Stoddard. “We had a solid Top 15 run last year for the Daytona 500 with Terry and that really set the tone for our whole season.  The entire organization has worked hard during the off season to improve and grow our team and another great performance to start the season is expected.”

Entering their second full season of competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, FAS Lane Racing established itself last season as a consistent performer on a weekly basis in the top level of racing.   The end result had the young team finishing the season in the top 35 of the owner’s point standings.

FAS Lane Racing PR

“New” is a word that Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer is going to hear a lot when he arrives in Daytona for the start of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Bowyer starts the season with a new team - Michael Waltrip Racing, new sponsor 5-hour ENERGY, new car number 15, new manufacturer Toyota, new crew chief Brian Pattie, new spotter Ty Norris and an entirely new road and pit crew (roster listed below). The one thing that remains the same from year to year are expectations - Bowyer is expecting his new team to compete for wins, pole awards and a spot in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup … and the first step towards achieving those goals would be a win in the season-opening Daytona 500.


ON MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING: “Starting 2012 with Michael Waltrip Racing is a fresh start, a new beginning -- a new way to prove myself all over again. The challenge is there and it’s fun. It’s nerve-wracking all over again, I’m nervous all over again and worried about things. I performed my best in the early stages of my career when I didn’t know what I was doing and I was nervous about it. Usually, somehow, some way I got some of the best results I’ve ever had. I see a lot of good things, a lot of positive things and a good direction that they are headed at Michael Waltrip Racing and TRD (Toyota Racing Development). There’s a lot of good things here and I think they’re all coming together at the right time. Timing in anything you do in life is so important. This is a new opportunity to go out and to make things happen for myself again.”

ON CREW CHIEF BRIAN PATTIE: “I’ve learned a lot about Brian (Pattie, crew chief). I’m super excited about working with Brian. I think that’s my best opportunity that I’ve ever had to work with a guy that I really, really can truly fit in with and get the most out of each other.  Now it’s up to us to go out and make that happen, but from the very first time that I started talking to Brian, I just felt comfortable. I felt like the relationship was there right off the bat and can build so much more than I’ve ever had. I love Shane Wilson (RCR crew chief) to death and we’re very close, but we had a lot of differences. We just weren’t really the same person and didn’t share the same -- he liked asphalt racing and I like dirt racing.  Brian likes dirt racing -- he speaks my language and we get along.”


· Budweiser Shootout: Bowyer has two career starts in the Budweiser Shootout. He made his first appearance in 2008 when he started 14th and finished 21st. In 2011, he started seventh and finished ninth and led four laps.

· Testing, Testing: Bowyer kicked off his tenure with Michael Waltrip Racing at a three-day test at Walt Disney World Speedway in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Dec. 13-15, 2011. Bowyer also tested at New Smyrna, Fla. on Jan. 10. and participated in NASCAR’s Preseason Thunder test at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 12-14. The No. 15 team participated in the Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 7-8.

· Lights, Camera, Action!: Bowyer filmed several new commercials that will debut during the first few races of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 5-hour ENERGY will debut it’s first commercial featuring Bowyer during the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. Other commercials featuring Bowyer will include Sprint, AAA and

· Grand Opening: Bowyer attended the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway on Feb. 3.

· Super Bowl: Bowyer attended the Super Bowl as a guest of NASCAR on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.

No. 15 Crew Roster

Crew Chief          Brian Pattie

Car Chief              Billy Curwood

Front Changer   Danny Kincaid

Rear Changer     Chuck Efaw

Front Carrier      Jason Gay

Rear Carrier        Richard Coleman

Jackman               Shaun Peet

Gas Man              Mike Metcalf

Spotter                 Ty Norris

Engineer              Dax Garringer

Engineer              Tim O’Brien

Interior                 Nate Kennedy

Mechanic            Travis Stock

Mechanic            Rick Ramsey

Tire Specialist     Scott Swift

Shocks                  Adam Cooke

Engine Tuner     Joe Bullard

Truck Driver        Al Nelson

Truck Driver        Ray Erwin